Gladioli, Claude Monet, ca. 1876, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts hide caption

toggle caption Detroit Institute of Arts
Courtesy of Harry Jackson Studios

Mountain Gorillas, one of the first dioramas on which Fred Scherer apprenticed, completed in 1936. Polina Yamshchikov/for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Polina Yamshchikov/for NPR

In The Background: Art You May Never Notice

Why that unassuming museum art — which you'll find behind taxidermic bison and birds — deserves a closer look.

Listen Loading… 4:32
  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/250797697/250992055" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of 15 17th century Dutch paintings on view at New York's Frick Collection through early 2014. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption AFP/Getty Images

The boats of For Those in Peril on the Sea, by artist Hew Locke, hang in the entrance hall of the Perez Art Museum Miami, which opens this week. Daniel Azoulay/Perez Art Museum Miami hide caption

toggle caption Daniel Azoulay/Perez Art Museum Miami
Courtesy of b micheal America

Hence We Come, by Norman Lewis Courtesy of The Kinsey Collection hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of The Kinsey Collection

Eugen Darie has admitted to being part of a Romanian gang that stole seven works by masters including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse from a Rotterdam museum last October. Vadim Ghirda/AP hide caption

toggle caption Vadim Ghirda/AP

Zhao Mengfu was the preeminent painter and calligrapher of the early Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). His Sheep And Goat scroll is estimated to be worth $100 million. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Sculptor and writer Barbara Chase-Riboud is troubled by race-based groupings. She currently has an exhibition of work inspired by Malcolm X at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Anselm Kiefer's Velimir Chlebnikov, a series of 30 paintings devoted to the Russian philosopher who posited that war is inevitable, is on display at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. MASS MoCA hide caption

toggle caption MASS MoCA

Museum director Alex Rueger (L) and Dutch artist Jeroen Krabbe stand in front of Vincent van Gogh's long-lost Sunset at Montmajour at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The 1888 landscape painting from the height of the Dutch master's career had been abandoned for years in a Norwegian attic on the belief that it was a forgery. Lex van Lieshout/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Lex van Lieshout/AFP/Getty Images

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor